Memories of My Father


I have a friend who often peppers his conversation with, “My mother always used to say……..” Actually, many of my friends start off a good story with that familiar refrain. I do it too. So I am sure you know what I am talking about. A typical sentence goes something like this. “My mother [or father] always used to say, ‘If everyone else jumped off the Empire State building doesn’t mean you have to.’”

Where do parents get these gems of wisdom? Is there a book they hand out to mothers in the delivery room?

The reason I bring this up is I recently received an email about silly things parents often say to their children. It was a tongue-in-cheek look at certain ‘momisms’ and ‘popisms.’ I never laughed so hard in all my life. I thought you might enjoy it too.

My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
“If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.”

My mother taught me RELIGION.
“You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”

My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL.
“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”

My father taught me LOGIC.
“Because I said so, that’s why.”

My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
“Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”

My mother taught me IRONY.
“Keep crying, and I’ll give you something to cry about.”

My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
“Shut your mouth and eat your supper.”

My father taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
“Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck!”

My father taught me about HYPOCRISY.
“If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times.”

My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.”

My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
“Just wait until we get home.”

My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
“You are going to get it when you get home!”

My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
“If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.”

My mother taught me GENETICS.
“You’re just like your father.”

My father taught me about my ROOTS.
“Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?”

Yes, parents, and adults in general say silly things like this to children all of the time. I even used some of these cliches with the children I taught.
But sometimes parents get it just right.
My father taught me how to TREAT CHILDREN.
Here’s the story.

I and my two brothers were at my parents for dinner. I can’t remember the occasion. We were all grown and out on our own. I was still teaching. My oldest brother was married and had three children. After dinner we were playing a card game called, Pit.

If you don’t know Pit, you should. It is more fun than a trillion barrels of monkeys.


Picture from Wikipedia

In short and from Wikipedia, “Pit is a fast-paced card game for three to eight players…………..Pit has no turns, and everyone plays at once.” Kinda like organized chaos!

The goal is to get nine of the same suit of cards by trading 1-4 cards with whoever wants to trade the same number of cards. It is loud, chaotic, and boisterous. And tons of fun!!! When someone got nine cards of the same suit we would yell, “Pit.”

After dinner we were all playing Pit and I couldn’t get nine cards. And the game seemed to be taking forever. Usually a game is over quickly. So I started to watch what was happening trying to figure it out. I was watching my dad and like a lightening bolt out of the blue, I saw what he was doing. He had figured out which suit each of his  three grandchildren at the table wanted. And he was holding on to cards until he could get enough of a suit to one of the grandchildren so that each in turn would win at least one game that night.

On the drive home I thought about what I had just witnessed. And I thought back to all of the games we had played when I was a child around that same dining room table. No matter the game, Pit, Clue, you name it. I  now realized my dad had done the exact same thing when my brothers and I were children.

To the extent possible, he controlled the games so that each of his children  had the thrill of winning at least one game every time we played.

He never said a word.

He did not ask for praise.

He did not seek glory.

My father taught by example not words.

To this day my father is my number one role model for how to treat children and people and how to live an honorable life.


Featured Recipe      Spaghetti Sauce with Sweet Vermouth


For several weeks now I have been craving spaghetti. And I mean craving. It was like visions of sugar-plums dancing  in my head.

I have dozens of spaghetti sauces to choose from. But the one I wanted, the one I craved, was this one ~  Spaghetti Sauce with Sweet Vermouth.

Sweet vermouth makes this a very special spaghetti sauce.

You could omit the ground chuck and eat meatless to save money.

The addition of the fresh tomatoes makes this sauce look and taste like you slaved over a hot oven in the kitchen all day long. In reality it only takes about 45 minutes to both prepare and cook this sauce.

This is what you will need for 4 people:

1 pound ground chuck

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion diced

2 cloves garlic diced

1 – 16 ounce can of tomatoes

2 small Roma tomatoes or tomatoes

1-6 ounce can of tomato paste

¼ teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)

½ cup sweet vermouth

NOTE: I have made this sauce with white wine and sometimes with dry vermouth. These beverages give the sauce a whole differfent flavor. Good, but not the same. The sweet vermouth is just super special.

Here is what you do:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pot.

Dice the onions and garlic.

Add the onions and garlic and just a wee pinch of oregano and Sauté in the olive oil until slightly golden.

Crumble the ground chuck into the skillet and cook until no pink remains.

While the meat is cooking cut the tomatoes into big chunks.

When the meat is cooked through drain the excess fat from the skillet. Not all of it mind you. But about thyree-fourths. I keep a plastic container with drained fat in the freezer. I just set that up next to the skillet and use a baster to suck up the grease and just put it in the plastic container. This seems an easy way to drain fat to me.

Then add all of the other ingredients to the skillet and mix well.

Simmer until sauce is smooth and thick. This will take about 30 minutes.

Picture below is about half way through the cooking. The diced tomatoes have not cooked down very well yet.

While the sauce is simmering begin heating a big pot of water to cook the spaghetti. When the sauce is done add the spaghetti to the water and cook till al dente; about 8-10 minutes or according to package directions.

The sauce is ready now. Doesn’t it look delicious? Just wait till you taste it!!!!

When the spaghetti is al dente drain and put on a plate.Top with the sauce.

Add some grated parmesan cheese if you so desire. I did. Serve with a salad and some garlic bread.

NOTE: This is a rather thick sauce. If you like your sauce less thick add a small can of tomato sauce at the end and heat till hot.

Bon Appetit!!!!


1 pound ground chuck                       $2.29

2 tablespoons olive oil                       $0.24

1 medium onion diced                       $0.70

2 cloves garlic diced                          $0.08

16 oz. can of tomatoes                      $1.89

2 small Roma tomatoes                     $0.49

6 oz. can of tomato paste                  $0.89

¼ teaspoon oregano                        $0.07

1 teaspoon of sugar                          $0.01

½ cup sweet vermouth                     $0.74

Total cost = $7.40
Cost per person for 4 = $1.85

Quote of the Day

Do not fear the winds of adversity. Remember: A kite rises against the wind rather than with it.

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6 comments to Memories of My Father

  • LHunter

    What a wonderful story. I do not remember that game but is sounds like fun. Since I am the youngest though there are a lot of things that I do not recall. One thing I remember about Grandpa is his gyroscope. I was always mesmerized watching him balance the gyroscope on the tip of a pencil. And to this day, I cannot come close to how well he did that.

    • Roberta

      You would have been VERY young. Glad you liked the story. For me, it is one of those memories that is just never forgotten. After I first figured out what he was doing I just watched him for several hands and he was holding cards and giving them out to who he wanted. It was amazing.

      I had forgotten about the gyroscope. I don’t know how he did it either. I could never get the hang of it. He must have practiced a lot. Or he understood physics really well.

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Felisha Wild, Roberta. Roberta said: Spaghetti Sauce with Sweet Vermouth recipe […]

  • That’s great story about your dad. Mine would always know exactly where everyone stood in any game and do the same thing. Good stuff.

  • Rubybeets

    Heart warming